Apr 292014

In some quarters, Jef Whitehead’s cover to the new album (Death Mask) by Chicago’s Lord Mantis has stirred up controversy — including in the comment thread to our own review of the album, where the band’s Charlie Fell joined the conversation to provide his own response to the controversy. Of course, controversy and metal aren’t strangers. In fact, one might argue that controversy is at the heart of metal. In fact, one might go further and argue that metal really doesn’t give a shit (and shouldn’t give a shit) about social agendas, political issues, or trying to move society in one direction or another.

That seems to be the general point of a short but potent piece by our fellow blogger Full Metal Attorney that appeared yesterday. In that piece, with the title “Metal Doesn’t Give A Shit”, he uses the controversy over Whitehead’s cover as a jumping-off point for an opinion piece in which he responds to the claim that metal should become “a truly counter-cultural resistance against mainstream society” — and I quote in part below:

“No, I’m sorry. Metal doesn’t care. Metal is horror films, snuff films, shock jocks, and pulp in music form. It has no higher purpose, and no social agenda.

Metal isn’t left. It isn’t right. It’s up yours. Dee Snider didn’t dress up like a woman because he was “ahead of his time” on queer issues, he did it to piss people off.

The only metalheads who do give a shit are punks who got into metal and a handful of bloggers. Not the dirty bastards who show up at every local show. Do you think Amon Amarth cares about social justice? The individual members, maybe. The band, definitely not.

…. Metal is Hells Headbangers and Iron Bonehead. It’s just music. Yes, it can be groundbreaking, even brilliant music. That’s why we have Profound Lore. But it’s still just music. Music that gives far fewer rats’ asses than any other kind of music.”

To read the full piece, go here.

This brushes up against issues I’ve wrestled with for years (and it sounds like Full Metal Attorney has done his own wrestling with them as well): to what extent should we care what metal bands sing about, what they put on their album covers, how they conduct themselves on stage, etc.? Should NSBM be shunned because the bands espouse morally repugnant ideologies? More specifically, should people boycott Inquisition’s albums if it turns out to be true (as discussed here) that they’re a couple of white supremacists?

And apart from what metal should or shouldn’t represent (and whether metal fans should or shouldn’t take such issues into account in deciding what bands to spend their money on), do you think it’s true that metal really doesn’t give a shit?

I don’t think generalizations work here — many bands obviously do give a shit about political and social issues and go so far as to make such issues the lyrical focus of their songs or the inspiration for their music, and many metal fans patronize such bands in part because of that focus. Other bands and fans obviously don’t give a shit. The more interesting question is whether there ought to be any judgment leveled against bands who prove themselves insensitive to, for example, the feelings (or rights) of other people — or whether instead we should accept the idea that metal is just music, and indeed music that at its very core really doesn’t care what anyone else thinks, and in particular what mainstream political ideologies dictate.

What do you think?


  51 Responses to “DOES METAL GIVE A SHIT?”

  1. So while we’re wildly generalising (and continuing to perpetuate the self-serving myth of metal as “rebellious” music) I suppose we can say that pop music also doesn’t give a shit because of Madonna (or whoever else has also dabbled in controversy more recently).

    Seriously, these sorts of articles trying to defend metal as a “culture” over music are interesting in their own way, but often seem to stem from an underlying fear that without the myth that metalheads are somehow “special” then its fans will somehow lose their identity. Which is quite sad and quite revealing really.

    • Can’t tell what you’re referring to when you say “these sorts of articles”. The one to which Full Metal Attorney was responding? Or his own, which I didn’t understand to be defending metal as a “culture” over music (indeed, it seemed to be doing the opposite).

      • Both! Both try and ascribe an over-arching description of what metal “is” – which is ironic as both are talking about what metal “is” from precisely opposite perspectives.

        “But it’s still just music. Music that gives far fewer rats’ asses than any other kind of music.”

        Well you could apply that to hip-hop, which often deals with offensive stuff, with horror movies, with violence, aggression, with politics, with society… or with country, which also deals with many of those things… or lots of other genres!

        What it comes down to is that metal hasn’t had the same sort of mainstream success as these other genres… but that’s correlation, not causation. The fact that the writer perceives metal as more “up yours” than other genres seems a result of this lack of mainstream attention. We want to believe that metal is more “badass” than other genres, but I’m not so sure it is. Its just not as accepted in mainstream circles. Which is probably more for simple aesthetic reasons than because it “doesn’t care”.

        The whole thing just reads like someone who’s taken the whole “metal identity” thing to heart, and is annoyed that other people are over-intellectualising it (and in doing so actually giving it more thought and more attention). It still seems very much “mine, get away!”, but this time targeted at liberals.

        • I wish I had a more eloquent response than “I concur”. But yes, I concur.

        • Extremely well said. This is something i’ve been feeling for quite sometime now. Most of the disconnect within the community (fans to be precise) regarding issues relevant to it, has more to do with how people view metal. Do they see it as a culture of rebellious badassery and staying true to it or say just good hard hitting music (which can change from genre to genre as from individual to individual).

          Personally i’ve always been in the latter. Its a genre i listen to almost religiously but nothing more than that. One other myth that needs to be busted soon, is that the way the word ‘metalheads’ sometimes translates into some long lost ancient brotherhood, where everybody cared for each other and are highly intelligent. I’ve always felt them to be just normal. Boasting, cheating, making sly remarks, ignoring, idiocy,all the qualities of just being normal, much like myself. hehe.

          Did i just rant?

  2. That piece by FMA makes me think that much of what I thought was metal that I’ve been listening to isn’t metal at all. Perhaps this is why I find myself being drawn towards post-rock/post-metal more and more? “Snuff films?” “No social agenda?” No thanks.

  3. As an intellectual metalhead I can honestly say that intellectual metalheads and their constant blabbering makes me sick! And no, I don’t really give a shit!

    It’s the same story over and over: 1. Art form reaches some level of maturity and public acceptance, 2. Art form gets drawn into irrellevant polititical and aestethic discussions, so that people feeding of these discussions can make a name for themselves… ad nauseam…

    Could we go back to headbanging and swilling beers in the parking lot, please?
    Use your Intellectual resources on something more important!

    Why I’m writing this? I don’t know. I really don’t give a rat’s arse… I don’t give a shit!

  4. I don’t think metal is fully at either end of the spectrum FMA describes. Certain aspects of the art and music seem to raise a middle finger to the masses, but almost all bands (to a certain extent) address societal or political issues either implicitly or explicitly. I don’t normally comment on articles like this because I think most of them come off as more closed-minded bigotry.
    All art in one way or another functions as an avenue of expression towards any aspect of life. Saying that metal doesn’t give a shit is highly inaccurate IMO. I’m not a fan of the Lord Mantis cover. I just don’t particularly enjoy looking at dicks.

  5. At this stage I sometimes get the feeling that the (vocal) majority of self-identifying metalheads are a bunch of immature manchildren.

    The “metal needs shockvalue” argument lost its relevance around the turn of the century (advent of the internet and free/easy access to explicit content).
    In need of a unique selling point for extreme metal – the music most certainly didn’t provide one – the “scene” embraced or at least accepted every halfwit with a few weird ideas about race or any social issue really.

    The same “scene” (which doesn’t exist in the implied sense anyway) that is wary to the point of paranoia of posers and hipsters.
    “no, we will not let you play with our toys! we’ll go build sandcastles with the fascists and misogynists now, that should keep us nicely isolated from you outsiders”

    To reply to Andy Synn: imo metal is a) not a culture, never was
    and b) the most conservative and obsessed-with-the-past musical genre I have had more than tangential experience with. What is labeled as rebellion is always the same old shit (religion bad, trite horror tropes good etcpp)

  6. Gonna go ahead and say… I disagree with Andy and FMA. It may be a bit different in the UK, but I definitely see Metal as a lifestyle choice and cultural ideology in the vein of Punks or Mods. I mean, I see it myself—we flock to one another. We have our own coded languages—all completely derived from the music. We ahve our own customs. We’re a culture, definitely.

    And no, I don’t see that culture as being mostly right-wing. I meet more liberal/libertarian metalheads than conservative ones. Now, I know a lot of people who don’t like to bring politics into the music, but at the same time aren’t down with misogyny or racism either.

    Just my experience.

    • Word!

    • I agree with you definitely with metal being a lifestyle choice. Before I was a metalhead, I was more or less a smart jock; now I really can’t identify with jocky-ness at all anymore, something metal has directly or indirectly steered me away from (dunno which).

      Even just today, in that sense of having our own customs and ideology, in my AP English literature class, I was supposed to decide on a book to read from a list of various classic texts. One of them was Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, which I found interesting due to its somewhat short length (remember, senioritis tends to drive away any happy thoughts that could arise from reading a thousand-page book in a month). However, when I posed to the group of friends I was gonna read it “with” (i.e. discuss with in class), they were all very leery of the prospect of reading about hell for an entire book. My prospective group are not uber-conservative ‘MURICA lovers by any means, so I feel this may be attributed to my changed worldview that has evolved with my delving into metal. I’m not sure whether I would have still become an atheist after starting out as a Christian in my pre-metal youth, but the two have seemed to progress in a unison of sorts.

      Going to the idea of the article itself a little more, if metal really should have no bearing to its lyrics, then why write such testy lyrics? If we’re really not supposed to attach any meaning to them, why not write metal songs about ponies and fairy dust, or just in gibberish syllables. Like any other genre, metal bands are entitled to put whatever they want into their lyrics, but they should know that if they test something like white supremacism, fans, labels, etc. also are entitled to criticize them for such lyrics, or boycott.

  7. I’ve fapped to lots of futanari, so that Jeff Whitehead painting doesn’t shock me at all. Then again, I’ve spent far more time on the internet than most other people, so I can see why it would shock them. Then again, that cover art was probably intentionally designed to piss people off, so they just fell right into Jeff’s trap. If that’s the case, then I admire Jeff’s trolling skills.

  8. I think this might be one of the few instances where I pretty much agree with Andy on this one. I don’t really see Metal as a lifestyle choice, and it’s pretty much exclusively what I listen to and occupy my time with. I spend more time listening to music and writing it than anything else, and its perhaps the largest chunk of my life and I still don’t feel the need to call it a “lifestyle choice”. I didn’t really choose to like Metal, I just do.

  9. I’ve always preferred bands whose lyrics told stories rather than explicitly expressing a social/political opinion, and i really like over-the-top exaggerated horror-movie style lyrics. not that i refuse to listen to social/political/opinion styled lyrics but i get my fill of the real world by living in it, and i listen to music for relaxation and enjoyment. i want to be entertained, not beat over the head with reminders of social injustices that i’m already very aware of.
    that said, i do care about the views expressed in my metal. i won’t tolerate blatantly racist or homophobic lyrics. but i’m not bothered by lyrics that simply describe a violent or despicable act as part of a story. same thing goes for album covers and onstage conduct. it’s one thing to write a song documenting a real life horror, like Slayer’s “Angel of Death”. it’s something completely different to have a swastika in your stage clothes or stage set or to publicly condone the actions of the Nazi regime.
    there’s plenty of great bands out there, i don’t need to compromise my beliefs or make exceptions just because a racist, homophobic prick also happens to be a talented musician. finding out that a band i like has lyrics or art that go against my personal beliefs just means that there’s going to be a vacancy on my mp3 player for some other cool band.
    regarding Inquisition, if there’s truth to what is being said, i’ll pitch the CD in the trash and never look back. but i need to be convinced first, rumors from unnamed sources doesn’t quite cut it.

    • I’m kind of surprised no one has caught on to Inquisition after this long. Dagon is in another band called fucking 88mm with a song called “14 Showers, Gas Tight Doors” on the Satanic Skinhead Propaganda compilation “Declaration of Anti-Semitic Terror”…but of course that whole Nazi thing is still up in the air, especially since if you look at the liner notes to the compilation “From Colombia With Hate” there’s a picture (http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g148/peterott/inquisition.jpg) of them in front of a Nazi flag with boobs crudely photoshopped over the center. Totally ambiguous! Maybe in a few years shamelessnavelgazing will catch on to Satanic Warmaster, Peste Noire or Alcest.

      • analgender, or whatever that guy’s name is that posted about Inquisition is completely clueless. I’m not sure what he expects out of black metal, or what his project is (if you can consider his blog part of some larger project), or what he thinks he’s actually serving other than himself. Apparently he didn’t get the memo that there’s nothing outright ok or progressive about black metal. Nor ought there be. And that it’s basis has always been a transgressive and inchoate. To try and change that, or attach a progressive agenda to it is just yet another quixotic flailing by a dilettante who stumbled into an artform they don’t really understand, and proceeded to assert their pseudo-authority over it, then become outraged by something inherent in it all along. That “article” is not just bad for it’s shoddy research and hearsay information (seriously, how can anyone say this is little more than awful gossip), it’s bad because it attaches some sort of shock and righteous anger to something that has been apparent from, as Christian wrote above, the get go. Ok, analgender, go ahead, boycott it, scream it from the rafters that Inquisition are nazis, go to town. It’s meaningless, boring, and ultimately self-serving — 5 minutes of fame — Isn’t there another scene you can insert yourself into and then berate? I’m sure we’re all dying to hear your expose on (gasp) a rapper’s misogyny. Oof.

      • i admit i only recently started paying attention to Inquisition (the vocals were a huge turn-off for me for a long time) so i know very, very little about the band and it’s member’s history. i’m not liking what i’m hearing, lately. i’m not shocked or surprised by this information, but it’s not something to which i can turn the other cheek, either.

        • This album has definitely given them a higher profile than ever before so of course their new fans can’t be blamed for not knowing their past, and like you said, it honestly comes as no surprise. analgender seems to be in the same boat as you, a new fan delving into their history and not liking what he sees, but has done what he tends to do and written a click-bait blog post using generic ten-cent buzzwords like “inherently violent” and “problematic” to (rightfully) call out controversial artists. By and large I agree with what he’s saying in the post; it’s okay to enjoy the work of artists with questionable-at-best intents, but that doesn’t put them above criticism. What I take issue with is the rest of his ideology and his delivery of it, which reeks of an “outsider’s” point of view. Though many in these comments have said metal is about the music, not the culture, I think there is definitely a subtle political structure to the scene in general. As someone who’s been into metal most of his life, I have to say that most of the comments on his site seem to have been left by internet social justice warriors looking for a battleground rather than metalheads looking to debate metal’s oft-controversial views. I feel the comments here are a much more accurate representation of metal fans and their thoughts on the subject. Just my two cents, of course.

      • Only the people who’d never heard of Inquisition until “Obscure Verses for the Multiverse” was released were surprised by these rumors. Anybody who was actually aware of the band before that couldnt fail to notice they had two full lengths and an EP released by No Colours Records. While its not exactly a loaded gun, this is the label thats released a afirn number of albums from bands like Graveland and Satanic Warmaster

        • …*a fair number of releases*

        • That’s what I mean (see the beginning of my reply above). It really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has known about them for a while, but for new fans it could be hard to tell. Like I said though, I wonder when people will start calling other artists into question like Neige…for those who have only heard his albums as Alcest, he also played drums on Peste Noire’s demo “Aryan Supremacy.”

          • Ive always been surprised at the acceptance of Drudkh given two of their primary members were also in Hate Forest…another band rumored to have some sketchy beliefs.

  10. Well we’ve got some controversy going here today!

    I’d just say one of the things which always drew me to metal when I was younger, and obviously kept me enthralled and is still in fact one of the aspects of the music which I admire is precisely the fact that many bands do have a social conscious, they do give a shit, and sing about real world events and issues. Is that the sole territory of metal? Of course not – anything from Bob Dylan and his anti-war messages, to rap as a genre largely reflecting the experiences and social issues of low socioeconomic status and racism, makes it clear that metal doesn’t have the sole right to say ‘we cover issues of social importance’. But I’d have to argue that it does so to a much greater extent than pop music.

    Which is also where I’d disagree with Andy above “We want to believe that metal is more “badass” than other genres, but I’m not so sure it is. Its just not as accepted in mainstream circles.” I think most metalheads would have a their own personal version of a story where they ‘discover’ metal and are intrigued or interested by the lyrical content, which, by drawing attention to social issues to a far greater extent than mainstream music, is in a sense rebellious in the sense that it tries to address problems in mainstream society.

    So my answer to the question of ‘Does metal give a shit’ would be two complete opposites – Yes: in that issues of social, environmental and political significance are often the topic of metal songs, and No: in the rebellious, we don’t give a shit, type of approach. The two seem to co-exist in metal quite well.

    And as for the ‘metal as culture’ argument – I’d agree that metal is simply a form of music, but I think it’s undeniable that there’s also a certain culture that has come up around it. If you go to any metal concert you can’t really deny that there’s a ‘culture’ there. You may not identify with all of it, or live your life by it like it’s a code, but it’s definitely there. It just seem to be something that happens when people interested in particular thing come together, some kind of anthropological occurence – just think of a biker convention, or even what I’m familiar with – a science convention, there’s definitely it’s a ‘science culture’ with its own norms and unspoken rules. I think these ‘cultures’ happen with almost everything where people get together with a common interest, and it’s happened with metal.

  11. The concept of rock and roll is dead – as a society, we have become so thoroughly desensitized to everything that the only things that still truly shock are the abhorrent. Like extremist beliefs. What troubles me is the increasing prominence of far-right leanings in black metal that are being treated as “rock and roll”. Look at any discussion about Inquisition right now and I guarantee that you will see an awful lot of asinine “black metal is not intended for PC faggots, fuck off if you don’t like it” posts. These people have some mistaken notion that anything that shocks is rock and roll and that the people being “shocked” are too weak to handle it. The problem with this is that people have a social responsibility to take umbrage at far-right sentiment just like they would anything else that is a known societal cancer. This is why I refuse to listen to NSBM/RAC and works made by musicians with known far-right sympathies – if I were to say “Yeah, the guys who made this are scum, but this is some wicked good shit”, I’d be complicit in allowing those philosophies to spread by insinuating that artistic merit automatically renders the ideology that inspired it irrelevant, and that is a bad, bad, baaaaaaad precedent to set.

    In short, I think that while a lot of people treat metal as something way more than just a genre of music that they enjoy and a community that they enjoy being a part of, even the most casual of fans have at least some responsibility to give a shit so as to prevent it from becoming a haven for poisonous and odious philosophies. Don’t say that it can’t happen – give something enough time and do very little to challenge it, and before you know it, it’s goddamn everywhere.

  12. Asking if metal gives a shit is kind of like asking if Spaniards give a shit. Well…some of them do. It’s really not a monolithic block. Speaking in anything less than the broadest of generalities when talking about “metal culture” is going to cause shit to break down.

    I can’t tell you if metal gives a shit. I can’t tell you if you should give a shit. That’s really something you’ve gotta figure out for yourself as an individual first, a metalhead second. Generally I come down on the side of giving a shit. I’m not some punk who found metal later in life and I’m not a blogger either. But I’m pretty hard left socially and economically and it would be hypocritical as fuck for me to give metal a pass just because it’s near and dear to me. It really strikes me as the same sort of weaksauce defense as “WELL IT WAS JUST A JOKE!” as if humor exists in a vacuum completely removed from society as a whole.

    If a band espouses hard right views in the studio or in their press releases it’s going to taint my opinion of them (Megadeth). If a band fills their albums with boneheaded misogyny it’s going to make me not really care how sweet their grooves are (Dagoba). And if a band expresses extremely repugnant views I’ll go out of my way to make sure they don’t get my money, ad revenue, or Spotify plays (any kind of fucking nazis).

    Strangely this hasn’t left me lacking for good music! There’s more amazing metal out there than I can possibly listen to. And I want to be clear here, it’s not like anything to the right of Lenin gets thrown out. I’m not going to quit listening to Pig Destroyer because murder goes against my delicate sensibilities. It’s more of a grey area with a few extreme edge cases.

    • I’ve found bits and pieces in this comment thread that echo my own feelings, but this one probably comes closest. I do give a shit — on the edges — and generally in the case of the kinds of examples you give. Also, when you referenced the “WELL IT WAS JUST A JOKE!” defense, it made me think of that awful Mastodon t-shirt from last Thanksgiving with the pilgrim sighting down a gun at a kneeling Native American “babe”. Though in that case I think it was just a bad idea rather than a reflection of racist/misogynistic views of the band. I gratefully saw Mastodon perform two nights ago and I eagerly await their new album.

  13. This is a fantastic discussion. It’s raised some points I hadn’t really thought of.

    Metal is really two things, it’s a style of music and it’s a culture. A “metalhead” can be someone who’s just into the music, or someone who is also into the culture.

    What I think I’m getting at here is the Platonic ideal of metal. The pure, idealized Metal has no political affiliation and isn’t out to make anyone happy. The lyrics and image are not about content, they’re about feeling. (Labels like Hells Headbangers fit that ideal much better than others.) The pure, idealized Metalhead has no use for such things either. Obviously no individual will perfectly follow that. But when metalheads get together to be metalheads, then politics should go out the window. Those same people can go to a political rally the next day, but (like Fight Club) they wouldn’t be the same people.

    There’s been this idea that metal should have a social conscience–injected from the punk scene–and it irks me. When people say that they think metal should do this or that, it just seems wrong. Metalheads tend to hate preaching, so to say that preaching should be a part of it is nonsensical. If you look at the history of the genre, it has nothing to do with politics except to the extent that it has contempt and distrust of those in power. Liberal identity politics (e.g., queer issues) do not represent the genre any more than conservative identity politics do (e.g., fascism).

    The bottom line of it is, metal–while friendlier to certain aspects of political philosophy than others–doesn’t dictate a political or social philosophy. Metalheads as individuals hold a lot of diverse beliefs. And when you’re in a metal forum, you are being a metalhead, and should celebrate metal for what makes it metal.

    If you MUST bring politics into the discussion, feel free to talk about what aspects of your political philosophy fit metal ideals (individualism or whatever) but don’t ever tell me that metal dictates we follow some touchy-feely don’t-hurt-anyone’s-feelings philosophy. Put a dozen dicks on that tortured dead girl, I don’t care. (OK, actually, I’d prefer not to look at the dicks either, but you get the idea.)

    There’s also the side issue that bugs me to no end. So many metalheads are OK with a band who talk about torture, rape, and murder, and that’s fine, but once it offends a minority group, then suddenly that’s not OK. It always has and always will seem to me an absurd distinction. A teacher once told me that Stalin made Hitler look like a Sunday school teacher, and I’ve always agreed with that.

    • It’s interesting that you mention the punk scene, which has long contained a lot of different philosophies under its umbrella. I’d suspect that the ethical ideals of, say, The Sex Pistols, don’t mesh with a lot of the straight-edge kids. As others have said, there’s no reason metal should hold to any agreed-upon beliefs more so than any other genre.

  14. Disclaimer: Old banger from the golden 80’s speaking here…

    Something I’ve found odd that is at least tangentially related to this discussion is that for the longest time I refused to purchase any Burzum records because I didn’t want my money going to a person with some level of nazi sympathies. The fact that Varg is both a convicted and admitted murderer really didn’t phase me. That wasn’t the reason I withheld my money, it was the racist angle. So is this some sort of twisted value system I’ve developed over a lifetime of metal, or am I just extra cautious of the nazi angle because it’s such a socially taboo subject? Shouldn’t I consider murder a greater offense than hatred?

    Anyway, ultimately I decided it was unlikely Varg was using the $5 he made from my purchase to enslave anyone – most likely just to make more music and feed his little aryan brood. And who am I to withhold food from wayward children with twisted parents? Isn’t that where most of us came from?

    But now that there’s no more metal for Burzum there’s no more money for Burzum. Moral quandary solved! Back to trying to decide what I think of this Babymetal record…just what are these girls singing about anyway? Should I be concerned about this “Gimme Choco!!” song?

  15. I’m just gonna be my typical self and say you’re all equally wrong and all equally right.

    Like all things, “metal” is what YOU make of it. That could mean a lifestyle, a fashion trend, a hobby, an obsession, or background noise. Some might get their musical willies off of the perverse and obscure, others from the technicality and complexity, others from the grandiose and fantasy, and others still from the atmosphere or heaviness. Some people are drawn to the community of metal, while others are rather reclusive. It’s something that has extremely wide ranging sonic and visual aesthetics. It’s a genre that is as much political as it is indifferent.

    It’s nobody’s to own or claim and never will be. Metal as music, as culture, and as art has grown to the point of no return, for better or worse. To try and make sense of it and contain it at this point is an exercise in futility.

  16. Also, for what it’s worth regarding Inquisition: They’ve made some statements on their FB page which seem to indicate their true feelings on allegations of Nazism. In a post yesterday, Dagon said, “I have half latin roots so use common sense.” In another post today, he referred to Metal Injection (and their article about how Inquisition is “probably” a Nazi band) as a “slanderous click bait blog.” I don’t know if that’s the statement written on Dagon’s behalf mentioned earlier or not.

  17. I don’t go to too many shows (translation: the last one was Swans last year) but when I did, if it was a metal show, you could meet both the best and the worst of metal culture, as far as I define it. The best was open-mindness, enthusiasm, musical knowledge, even a sort of most welcome naivete. The worst was know-it-all geekism, my-favourite-band-is-the-best-and-yours-sucks attitude, alchoholism and the use of the show as an alibi to be free to act like an a$$.
    Still, when I happen to be in a more “general” audience, the metalheads stand out as the most intelligent, clever, dedicated ones in the room.
    So, where’s the truth? ^__^

    I’m glad someone else mentioned Burzum. I read “Lords of Chaos” before actually listening to any black metal, and Burzum is where I draw the line. I don’t want to listen to music made by a murderer. Call me pussy if you’re 12 years old, but that I won’t do. Does this mean I’m close-minded, or am I simply using common sense? How can I enjoy Caravaggio’s art (another murderer) and not Vikernes’? And had I not known that Vikernes was a murderer, maybe his music would be among my favourites? I dabble in these questions every day.

    I find myself respecting more (and thus enjoying more) REAL working men like Chris Ojeda or John Cobbett of Hammers of Misfortune than any gore metaller out there, although I’m sure they are all nice guys. Sorry but Cannibal Corpse has never been for me. When I was young they were too disgusting and now it’s just smoke and mirrors to me.

    Of course intelligent lyrics get a bonus from me. Iron Maiden are the living proof you can write intelligent stuff about almost anything. Certainly this raises the question: define “intelligent?” Well, tell you what, if some of you can point me to an intelligent lyric about raping a dead prostitute with a dead rat, I’m willing to read it, listen to the song and even change my mind.

  18. I never understood the people who said that politics don’t matter and that it is all about the music. So they listened to NSBM etc.
    In my opinion that is just ignorant. Apart from the fact that nazism and BM are philosophically totallly incompatible, nazism is despicable and should not be given a platform just because a band happens to make good music.

    Does metal give a shit?
    There is no “one” metal, some bands obviously give a shit about political or social issues (thrash metal as a whole, Light Bearer, Heaven Shall Burn and many, many more). Some bands don
    I don’t give a shit if metal gives a shit (does this even make sense?)

    What really makes me angry is the following said by Full Metal Attorney
    “Anti-Christian lyrics are just as wrong (if not moreso) than racist lyrics.”

    No, they’re not! That’s a slap in the face for every victim of a hate crime.
    Christiany is something you are forced/born into but you can change that if you wish. It’s something you DO. Your race is something you ARE.
    There is a big, big difference

    • You’re taking that quote out of context. Judged on humanist standards, it’s arguable that you are correct. (Although still up for debate. I hardly think you’re suggesting that persecution of people for religious beliefs is acceptable. How would you like it if the government decided to start rounding up all the secular humanists and putting them in camps?) But clearly, if you read the whole comment, and especially my explanatory comment toward the end of that thread, the statement had nothing to do with humanist standards of morality, which I find to be preposterous. But that’s neither here nor there, and not really the point of this discussion, so I’m not going to go there. We’ve had our little give and take on that topic, so for now let’s just leave it at that to focus on what metal is/has been/should be/can be in respect to its social conscience or lack thereof.

  19. Huge conversation, so just a brief point here. All the proponents of the “don’t give a shit” opinion are basically devaluing heavy metal’s worth, as a serious genre of music (I will say of art, in general), in an attempt to “protect” it from outside criticism and interference. All serious art has a moral character, not only it should suggest, but criticize itself as well. By that, I don’t mean that heavy metal should necessarily have humanist values (a large part of it doesn’t) but that it should be at least consistent with itself. Creating a false space where moral judgement is discouraged, even though we continue to be “political correct” in all other aspects of our life, shows not only a discrepancy, but a kind of inner suppression. What does enjoying lyrics about the rape or dismemberment of a woman tell about us? What does enjoying warlike music and lyrics about barbarians that enslave weakling tribes tell about us? I don’t believe it simply tells that we are sickos or nazis, mind you, as the simplistic moralist attacks on heavy metal we usually defend against would like to prove. But it does tell something, doesn’t it?

    In the end, it’s a question of caring. Morals is a kind of an exchange between personal and social interest. I might lose the pleasure of listening to Inquisition records, if it is indeed proven that they are nazis, But I will also have the pleasure of listening and promoting bands with messages that I find socially positive. I will. I mean, I’m not sure about you. Metal is usually vehemently individualist, averse to any theories of collective meaning, so that explains these existing tendencies. But it needn’t necessarily be so.

  20. Hey, does anyone remember that movie 40 Days and 40 Nights in which Josh Hartnett’s character is raped by his ex-girlfriend and is actually blamed for having sex with her? … If the Lord Mantis album cover had no tits, no one would care except for “extreme” conservatives. I’m not saying that intolerant brhavior should be normalized, but where is the line? That line cannot be legally defined because no one’s *feelings* are protected by law. Rights are protected, and you have the right to be offended as much as the artist has the right to offend you. Is the album cover in poor taste? That’s for you to decide. If you take the stance of “not on MY turf, not in OUR scene”, remember that it’s not just YOUR scene. I think racism and misoginy are awful ideals, but let’s try to discuss why they’re wrong in an open forum instead of sticking our fingers in our ears and saying “la la la, i don’t hear you”.
    I also think if that particular album cover had the face of Christ or some government leader, the same people who are calling it offensive would instead be singing praises for its “bold political stance”.

  21. There’s been quite a bit of discussion about Inquisition in this thread. DECIBEL has today posted an extensive interview with Dagon that addresses the controversy. I’ll probably post about it separately, but here’s the link:


  22. Metal is short… Metal is endless
    Metal is linear but also a relative factor that
    moves rather unnoticed form point A to B.
    Metal is a force not to be taken lightly….

    Metal is a black hole that consumes energy,
    ambition and love…
    Metal is dangerous!

    Metal… quite frankly… doesn’t give a shit!

    And above all… Metal is BLACK
    It is your ENEMY!
    Metal is decline and decay… Metal is DEATH!

    Had to be done 😀

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